Author: Lacroix, Natalie

Heejoo Kim’s New Film “Behind The Loom” Released

heejo kim

Congratulations to DMD Motion Design & Animation professor Heejoo Kim, whose new film, Behind the Loom, is hitting the international film festival circuit! Behind the Loom is a short experimental animated documentary about the story of women during World War II. It unpacks the mystery of a family tragedy looking through a miniature handmade loom. It is the forgotten story of the brutalization of women and girls leading up to The Siege of Berlin in 1945. This film describes the impact of the war from a female perspective using personal testimonies and letters portraying the previously untold and true story of how Hanni, a mother, and her four daughters coped with the approaching force of the Red Army and the tribulation that ensued. Over 100,000 women and girls were raped during the Siege of Berlin, rarely is this fact acknowledged in history. The heartbreaking letters of Hanni’s husband Albert, provide clues as to why his family died and how he used the power of art to heal himself. Behind the Loom incorporates history, human rights, and feminism in an experimental documentary form.​​

The newly released film has hit the festival circuit and already has great success!

 

AWARDS:

“Best Experimental” – Toronto International Women Film Festival, Toronto, Canada 

“Honorable Mention” – Art Film Awards, Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic

“Best Documentary Short” – Port Blair International Film Festival, Port Blair, India 

“Semi Finalist” – Luleå International Film Festival, Luleå, Sweden 

“Best Film on Women” – Uruvatti International Film Festival, Tamil Nadu, India 

 

ADDITIONAL FESTIVAL SCREENINGS:

Feel The Reel International Film Festival, Glasgow, United Kingdom

Cambodia Independent Film Festival, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Barcelona Indie Filmmakers Festival • BARCIFF, Barcelona, Spain

Rome Outcast Independent Film Award, Rome, Itay

New York Flash Film Festival, NY, USA

 

Learn more about the film at: https://heejoogwenkim.com/behind-the-loom/

UConn Game Designers Win Big in Connecticut

group photo
Photo from left to right – Mackenzie Fox (BFA DMD ‘21), Colter Moos (Ph.D. Candidate Neag), Joshua Hirshfield (BA DMD ‘21), Devin Quinn (BA DMD ‘21), Zack Anderson (BS CompSci ‘23), Clare O’Hara (BS CompSci ‘21), Dr. Stephen Slota (Faculty Neag/DMD), Meaghan Doherty (BFA DMD ‘21), Danial Ezzati (MFA DMD ‘24), Jake Tomassi (BA DMD ‘22), Dr. James Coltrain (Faculty DMD), Lexi Vecchio (MFA DMD ‘23), Kenneth Thompson (Faculty DMD), Arpita Kurderkar (Ph.D. Candidate – Integrative Studies / School of Engineering).  Not shown but also in attendance: Alden Earwood (BFA DMD ‘23), Dr. Clarissa Ceglio (Faculty DMD), Dr. Michael Young (Faculty Neag)

Amid waves of applause from game-loving superheroes, ninja turtles, and Jedi, three of UConn’s Digital Media & Design game designers took home awards at this year’s Connecticut Festival of Indie Games (CT FIG). The annual competition unfolded over three days (September 10-12, 2021) in partnership with ConnectiCon, a family-friendly gaming and anime convention that attracts more than 12,000 people to the Hartford Convention Center each year (ConnectiCon XVIII was the first large scale event held at the convention center since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic). 

Students, faculty, and alumni from Digital Media & Design, the Neag School of Education, Greenhouse Studios, and the School of Engineering showcased a dozen games ranging from multiplayer, arcade-style space adventures to virtual reality experiences centered on concepts as varied as plein air painting, geometry, and engineering. During ConnectiCon, attendees had the opportunity to play each game, vote on their favorites, and provide feedback to the developers, each of whom (undergraduates, PhD candidates, and current faculty) is rocketing toward a bright future in the field of design. 

“It is really wonderful to see our students shine. Winning 3 of the 7 digital awards in a state-wide competition is an incredible achievement,” said DMD Department Head, Heather Elliott-Famularo. “We are incredibly proud of the students, alumni, and faculty in our game design program.”

award badge

The 2021 CT FIG | UConn DMD student / alumni winners are: 

Currently in its eighth year of operation under the leadership of game designer Ken Thompson, the UConn Digital Media & Design game design program is ranked #1 in Connecticut and #19 on the East Coast according to Animation Career Review. It draws from multiple disciplines—including fine arts, psychology, and computer science—to engage students in hands-on projects and cultivate the skills needed to build a wide array of analog, video, and virtual reality gaming experiences. For aspiring Master of Fine Arts students, the program offers fully-funded, three-year MFA graduate assistantships in Digital Media & Design.

“It’s gratifying to showcase their diverse skill sets and hard work to the state of Connecticut. I’ve watched many of them collaborate and learn how to make games, and it’s an honor to have supported them along the way,” said Ken Thompson.

Unique to UConn is the highly-interconnected nature of its DMD game design and educational technology programs. The two coordinate to target practical skills for digital age collaboration, communication, and universal design, all of which are crucial in cutting-edge entertainment, educational, and interactive business spaces. This partnership allows UConn’s game designers to learn technical skills for their profession as well as concepts related to playful learning, human cognition, and accessibility with Dr. Stephen Slota, a DMD/Neag joint faculty appointment. Likewise, educational technology specialists enrolled in the one-year Master of Arts educational technology “Two Summers” program—whose motto is “Learn to Play & Play to Learn”—benefit from interdisciplinary courses that weave together best practices for interactive storytelling, instructional design, and classroom technology implementation.

These learning opportunities are often made possible through funded research positions in game development at Greenhouse Studios, housed in the UConn Homer Babbidge Library. Greenhouse forges diverse and democratic collaborations that build humanities scholarship in new formats to engage new audiences.

 

student with award
Devin Quinn with his award.
student with award
Mackenzie Fox with her award.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Full List of Competing UConn Student Work:

  • Viscid Xenogenics 
    • Meaghan Doherty – Design / Art – (B.F.A. DMD ‘21) 
    • Devin Quinn – Programming – (B.A. DMD ‘21) 
    • Through a Glass 
      • Mackenzie Fox – Game Design /Coding / Art – (B.F.A. DMD ‘21) 
      • Hare Apparent 
        • Devin Quinn – Game Design – (B.A. DMD ‘21) 
        • Mackenzie Fox – Character Art – (B.F.A. DMD ‘21) 
        • Meaghan Doherty – Logo – (B.F.A. DMD ‘21) 
        • Enthrall 
          • Danial Ezzati, Game Design and Programming (M.F.A. DMD ‘24) 
          • Scrapshoot 
            • Robert Linquist – Lead Project Director / Developer – (B.F.A. DMD ‘19) 
            • Joshua Hirshfield – Lead Producer / Visual Effects – (B.F.A. DMD ‘21) 
            • Ben Guzik – Assistant Director / Lead Designer / Developer /Sound Designer – (B.A. DMD ‘20) 
            • Mackenzie Fox – Lead Visual Artist – (B.F.A. DMD ‘21) 
            • Christopher Janocha – Game Designer / Developer / Sound Designer – (B.F.A. DMD ‘20) 
            • Cadence Hira – Music Composition – (Berkeley School of Music ‘21)
            • Matt Tomaszewski – Project Director / Developer, Game Designer
            • Devin Quinn – Game Developer – (B.A. DMD ‘21) 
            • Zack Anderson – Gameplay Programmer – Engineering, (B.S. Comp Sci ‘23)
            • Rubicon
              • Devin Quinn – Lead Project Director / Lead Developer – (B.A. DMD ‘21) 
              • Josh Hirshfield – Game Designer / Developer – (B.A. DMD ‘21) 
              • Matt Hsing – Voice Acting
              • Malcolm Braren – Soundtrack Composer – (B.S. in Marketing ‘21)
              • Sean Mathieu – Marketing / Business – (B.A. DMD ‘21) 
              • Cadence Hira – Sound Design & Polish – (Berkeley School of Music ‘21)
              • NovaSwarm
                • Patrick Belanger – (M.F.A. DMD ‘18)
                • Thesis Topic: Teaching Engineering Concepts with the Arts in Virtual Reality  
                  • Arpita Kurdekar (Ph.D. Candidate in Integrative Studies) 

                 

                Other Faculty Research Presented at ConnectiCon

                • Blackhaven James Coltrain (DMD Game Design Faculty)
                  • James Coltrain – Design, Story, 2D and 3D Art, programming, animation, audio, and music
                  • Cast
                    • Kendra Turner – Darby Farr
                    • Maya Turner – Jada “JC” Brazil
                    • Anthony Mitchell – Raven Boyd
                    • Audio Tour Narrator – James Coltrain
                    • Male Caller – James Coltrain
                    • Female Caller – RachRob269
                    • Script
                      • Tia Alphonse
                      • Tyra Johnson
                      • Naomi Winston
                      • Shearon Roberts
                      • James Coltrain
                  • Charles VR Greenhouse Studios
                    • Jonathan Ampiaw – (M.F.A. DMD ‘21)
                    • Shawn Chen – (B.F.A. DMD 3D Animation ‘20)
                    • Lauren Ciulla – (B.A. DMD Web/Interaction Design ‘20)
                    • Ryan Freeland – (M.F.A. DMD ‘18)
                    • Eri Lauer – (B.A. DMD 2D Animation ‘20)
                    • Tim Miller – (Greenhouse Studios Mellon Design Fellow)
                    • Alex Mueller – (B.F.A. DMD Web/ Interaction Design ‘22)
                    • Lily Pashapour – (B.A. DMD web/Interaction Design ‘20)
                    • Dan Pejril – (DMD 3D Animation Faculty)
                    • Eric Rice – (Department Head, Music)
                    • Tom Scheinfeldt – (Director, Greenhouse Studios and DMD Faculty)
                    • Michael Young – (Humanities Librarian and Adjunct Lecturer in Art History)
                    • Brooke Foti Gemmell – (Design Technologist, Greenhouse Studios)
                    • Tom Lee – (Design Technologist, Greenhouse Studios, M.F.A. DMD ‘17)
                    • Courtroom 600  
                      • Undergraduate Research Assistants:
                        • George Liam Houle – (B.A. DMD Game Design ‘18)
                        • Abigail Golec – (B.F.A. Design/Technical Theater)
                        • Brett Glynn – (B.A. DMD Game Design ‘19)
                        • Alex Williams – (B.S.E. Software Design and Development ‘19)
                        • Christopher Janocha- (B.A. DMD Game Design ‘20)
                        • Jefferey Dobbs – (B.F.A. DMD 3D Animation ‘20 )
                        • Joshua Hirshfield – (B.A. DMD Game Design ‘20)
                        • Ethan Hanna – (B.S. Computer Science ‘20 )
                        • Justin Woods – (B.F.A. 3D Animation ‘20)
                        • Kenny Wei – (B.S. CSE Software Design and Development ‘19)
                        • Kerrie Maguire – (B.A. DMD Game Design ‘19)
                        • Rae Enzie – (B.F.A. DMD Game Design ‘19)
                        • Renoj Varghese – (M.F.A. DMD ‘21 )
                        • Benjamin Guzik – (B.A. DMD Game Design ‘20 )
                        • Charles Hildner-IV – (B.F.A. DMD Game Design ‘19 )
                        • Santino Giannini – (B.A. Communications ‘19)
                      • Graduate Research Assistants:
                        • William Keeping – (M.A. DMD ‘16)
                        • Margaux Ancel – (M.F.A. Arts Administration ‘19)
                        • Patrick Belanger – (M.F.A. DMD ‘18)
                        • Stefan Lopuszanski – (M.F.A. DMD ‘20)
                        • Meghan Arends – (M.A.Public History, UMass Boston ‘22)
                      • Faculty
                        • Ken Thompson – (DMD Game Design Faculty)
                        • Clarissa Ceglio – (DMD Digital Humanities Faculty)
                        • Stephen Slota – (DMD Game Design Faculty)
                        • Gregory Colati – (UConn Digital Preservation Repository Program Director)
                        • Graham Stinnett – (UConn Archivist)
                    • EOS-503 (A funded research project. All students were compensated for their work)
                      • Stephen Slota – (DMD Game Design / Neag Faculty)
                      • Colter Moos – (Ph.D. Candidate Neag) 
                      • Clare O’Hara – (B.S. Comp Sci ‘21)
                      • Devin Quinn – (B.A. DMD ‘21) 
                      • Mackenzie Fox- (B.F.A. DMD ‘21)
                      • Meaghan Doherty – (B.F.A. DMD ‘21)
                      • Josh Hirshfield – (B.F.A. DMD ‘21)  
                      • Zack Anderson – (B.S. Computer Science ‘23)

                     

                    (Via UConn Today) UConn Stamford Professor, Human Rights Filmmaker Earns Two Emmy Nominations

                    Oscar Guerra says the multidisciplinary partnerships at UConn expand the reach and depth of his work

                    Oscar Guerra, assistant professor of digital media and design, at the Stamford campus on Sept. 9, 2021. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)

                    “There are some stories that are meant for you and some others that are not – I think it is as simple as that,” says Oscar Guerra, an assistant professor of film and video in the Digital Media and Design Department at UConn Stamford.

                    “If you want to call it luck, if you want to call it fate, there are things that are meant for you. I think that I happened to be in the right moment at the right time.”

                    For Guerra, that right time was during the COVID-19 pandemic, in Stamford, and the story was that of an immigrant family from Guatemala. The mother, Zully, was admitted to the hospital with COVID while pregnant with her second child; her husband, Marvin, and son, Junior, had also contracted the virus.

                    Cameraman in full PPE filming a COVID-19 patient in the hospital
                    Oscar Guerra, an assistant professor of film/video production at UConn’s Stamford campus filming patient Zully, who was ill with COVID-19 before giving birth to son. PHOTO BY JOHN MOORE/GETTY IMAGES

                    Extremely ill, Zully was placed into a medically induced coma and was unconscious when her second son was born. Unable to send the baby safely home, the family turned to their son’s teacher, who remarkably agreed to care for the infant, while the local community rallied to support the family during Zully’s illness and recovery and, later, the family’s reunification.

                    Guerra, a documentary filmmaker whose focus is social change – with particular emphasis on capturing the realities of the Latino and immigrant experience – had his camera running during some of the family’s most wrenching moments: when Zully came home from the hospital, still ill but recovering; when the family’s continued positive COVID tests kept the new infant from coming home; and when Zully learned her mother, still in Guatemala, was also seriously ill with COVID.

                    He was also there when their beloved teacher finally handed the baby to his mother, five weeks after his birth, and the raw emotion of these moments is palpable in the finished piece, “Love, Life, and the Virus,” which aired on the long-running PBS program Frontline and the acclaimed Univision program Aquí y Ahora last year.

                    “As a journalist, I think that you have to be very objective,” Guerra says. “You have to be very rigorous with what you have. But at the same time, you’re also a person. You’re this human being that is feeling, so it’s really hard to be able to find that balance.”

                    The balance that Guerra struck has earned him two national Emmy nominations for “Love, Life, and the Virus,” for Outstanding Feature Story in a Newsmagazine and for Best Story in a Newsmagazine. The News & Documentary Emmy Awards will be given out in ceremonies scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 28 and Wednesday, Sept. 29.

                    That balance has also kicked off a new and exciting partnership between Guerra and Frontline.

                    “The Frontline team are, in my opinion, some of the most well respected journalists in the States – how they do it, the way in which they approach the process, is so serious, so deep,” Guerra says. “I think that after the success of ‘Love, Life and the Virus,’ they realized that I wanted to keep working with them and they wanted to keep working with me, and I had a chance to pitch an idea.”

                     That new idea has come to life as a multimodal collaboration between UConn, Frontline, and the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University that will focus on the reunification of families separated at the U.S. border. The project includes documentary film as well as a multimedia web-based platform based on independent research that examines the impact of the Trump Administration’s Zero Tolerance immigration policy.

                    “We’re doing a comprehensive examination of the Zero Tolerance policy and its aftermath,” says Guerra. “What is the Biden Administration doing about it now? Are we going to forget about it? Are we going to learn from the past?”

                    The work feels personal for Guerra, he says, who was born in Mexico and came to the United States 10 years ago, and whose own child was born in the midst of Zero Tolerance.

                    “Can you imagine being separated from your kids, just like that, because you’re seeking asylum?” he asks. “Maybe you’re fortunate enough that it has never happened and is never going to happen to you, but what if? What would you do for your kids? I’m not trying to put any judgment or anything here, it’s just shedding light on something, it’s just starting that conversation, but this is going to be a very powerful film.”

                    Guerra says that the space in front of a camera was always a place he found comfortable. He was a performer from a young age, he says, and was also a professional mariachi singer in Mexico.

                    Cameraman in PPE
                    Oscar Guerra, an assistant professor of film/video production at UConn’s Stamford campus wears personal protective equipment while filming COVID-19 patients in Stamford Hospital. (PHOTO BY JOHN MOORE/GETTY IMAGES)

                    “From as early on, as long as I can remember, I’ve always been good in front of the camera,” he says. “I always had a very artistic sensibility. And there was a moment where I said, you know what, I think that I’m going to start producing my own stuff, not just being in front of camera. It was a very organic development – cameras became just very natural for me.”

                    He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the Tecnologico de Monterrey University in Mexico City, and his Ph.D. in Mass Communication from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; he taught at San Francisco State University before joining the faculty at UConn in 2019.

                    Hired to help launch the new B.F.A. film and video concentration in the Digital Media and Design Department, the ability to collaborate with UConn’s Human Rights Institute and Dodd Human Rights Impact – with great support from his department head in Digital Media and Design, Heather Elliott-Famularo – was a big selling point in his decision to join the University, he says.

                    “I asked about collaborations and partnerships, because that’s crucial for the type of work that I do,” Guerra says. “Being able to partner up with a place like the Human Rights Institute, it just opens up so many possibilities to expand your network. I’m new to the area, and having that background and support is a big advantage for an assistant professor.”

                    He continues, “We have similar interests and similar goals. We’re very committed to highlight through film human rights violations and issues. They think that film is the right medium to do this, and when you have a guy like me that is producing documentary for social change and is also interested in that, I think that’s why it was a perfect match.”

                    Guerra has also taken his partnerships local, working with the City of Stamford on a project to document the city’s COVID-19 vaccination rollout and response.

                    “Sometimes I just go out with my camera and I start documenting,” he says. “That’s my craft, what I do, and I started documenting the COVID vaccine rollout here in Stamford. I connected with the City of Stamford, because I think that I just have this precious archival footage. I told Kathy [Libal, Human Rights Institute Director] and Glenn [Mitoma, director of Dodd Impact], why don’t we work on a multimedia archival project? I have really good stuff, and just imagine how precious and how valuable that that footage is going to be.”

                    Guerra earned a competitive Research Excellence Program grant this year to support the Stamford project.

                    While he says that he tries to leave viewers of his films open to their own interpretations, he hopes that his work can help start conversations, build awareness, and maybe lead to people to greater feelings of empathy toward others.

                    “I realized that it was almost my moral responsibility to use my talents and my field to give back to my community,” he says. “You can start reframing the Latino immigrant experience. What we see in mainstream media, it’s not an accurate reality of who we are. Our reality is very complex and rich. Media has a lot of power, and when we document, we empower. And that’s what we need.

                    “I think that what we do as filmmakers, it’s so crucial. We document history, and then we change our future by understanding what happened in the past.”

                    Ceremonies for the 42nd Annual News and Documentary Emmy Awards are scheduled for September 28 and 29.

                    For more information about UConn’s Human Rights Film and Digital Media Initiative, visit humanrights.uconn.edu.

                    Story by Jacelyn Severance for UConn Today


                    This Emmy® Awards ceremony will be streamed live on NATAS’ dedicated viewing platform powered by Vimeo, available on the web at watch.theemmys.tv and via The Emmys® apps for iOS, tvOS, Android, Samsung, FireTV, and Roku (see a full list at apps.theemmys.tv) at 7pm

                    (Via UConn Today) ‘Along the Waves’ Puts Music in Motion Through Animation

                    ‘Along the Waves’ premieres April 21 at 6 p.m. online

                    A dancer’s image from the animation of “Prélude en Berceuse,” the first movement of “Au Gré Des Ondes (Along the Waves) “ composed by Henri Dutilleux. The music in the first movement was performed by Morgan Lee ’22 SFA, a doctoral candidate in piano, and animated by Jonathan Goodrich ’21 SFA.
                    A dancer’s image from the animation of “Prélude en Berceuse,” the first movement of “Au Gré Des Ondes (Along the Waves) “ composed by Henri Dutilleux. The music in the first movement was performed by Morgan Lee ’22 SFA, a doctoral candidate in piano, and animated by Jonathan Goodrich ’21 SFA. (Contributed photo)

                    When the coronavirus pandemic paused in-person events and online streaming became the main venue for arts performances, two professors in the UConn School of Fine Arts started thinking about a project that would showcase their students’ creative talents.

                    Anna Lindemann, assistant professor of motion design and animation in the Department of Digital Media & Design (DMD), and Angelina Gadeliya, assistant professor-in-residence of piano and coordinator of keyboard studies in the Department of Music, developed a semester-long collaboration for their piano and animation students.

                    “We wanted to bring together talents within the School of Fine Arts to create an exciting online program,” Lindemann says. “We asked ourselves how animation can bring music to life during a time when live performance isn’t possible, and how music can inspire new ways of developing and structuring animation.”

                    The result is a short, animated music program called “Along the Waves,” which will premiere online on Wednesday, April 21 at 6 p.m.The program honors the 75th anniversary of the work “Au Gré Des Ondes (Along the Waves),” composed by Henri Dutilleux. Comprised of six short character pieces for solo piano, the title of the work suggests both “ocean” and “radio” waves. The animated music program also features “Prelude No. 10 in E minor (WTC I)” by Johann Sebastian Bach, a work that Dutilleux pays homage to in the fifth movement of his own composition.

                    Dutilleux’s small body of published compositions won international praise and follows in the tradition of Maurice Ravel and Claude Debussy. Those who commissioned works from him include Mstislav Rostropovich, Isaac Stern, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Renée Fleming and Seiji Ozawa. He served as the head of music production for Radio France for nearly two decades, was a faculty member of leading music conservatories in Paris, and was twice composer in residence at the Tanglewood Music Center in Lenox, Massachusetts.

                    “I think of music as very visual already,” says Gadeliya. “We’re trying to decode what the composer is trying to say; what is the mood and the character of each piece of the six short pieces? All of these sounds can inspire colors from each musician. The closer you get to the spirit of the composition as the interpreter, the easier it is for the visual artist to bring life to that music through animation.”

                    Seven pianists and seven animators collaborated in pairings to develop a music animation during the spring semester. Gadeliya worked individually with each musician as they learned and then recorded a movement from the program, and Lindemann guided animators in her Advanced Motion Media class.

                    “One of the things we prioritized was empowering each collaborative pair to develop their own visual interpretations of the music,” Lindemann says. “Each pair met independently to develop concepts for the animation before receiving guidance from Professor Gadeliya and me. We used the class as a way to workshop and critique the animations as they developed.”

                    Morgan Lee ’22 (SFA), a doctoral candidate in piano, collaborated with Jonathan Goodrich ’21 (SFA), a senior in the Motion Design and Animation concentration in DMD, to develop the animated music for the first movement of program, “I. Prélude en Berceuse.”

                    “We had conversations leading up to the animation as I was learning the music,” Lee says. “We had discussions talking about imagery and structure. I mapped out the major shifts in the music measure-by-measure as a way to guide the visual development. We also had to take into consideration that it’s more time intensive to develop a three-minute animation than it is for a trained musician to learn and record a three-minute musical piece. As Jonathan was finishing drafts and doing storyboard ideas I was giving my feedback as a musician.”

                    Goodrich says his early suggestion of using a ballet dancer as the core image in the animation changed as they continued their discussions and they began to consider a mirage-like quality for the animation.

                    “I made rough drafts of how those visuals would look,” he says. “We built on that with a surreal ballet-inspired sequence where the figure dances through changing shapes to match the color tones as the music changes from light and innocent to a more sinister feeling. We wanted to reflect that in the movement and the colors of the project. I decided to go in the direction of a more simplified visual style for the figure, like Matisse’s cut-paper figures.”

                    During the animation, the ballet figure transforms from a person to an angel to a centipede-like creature and then back to a dancer. Goodrich created the animation using Cinema 4D, a 3D animation software, along with Adobe Illustrator for illustration and Adobe After Effects, a motion graphics software.

                    In addition to “I. Prélude en Berceuse,” the music animations for “Along the Waves” include:

                    • “II. Claquettes (Tap-dancing),” Tristan Wong ’23 (SFA), piano; Quinn Erno ’22 (SFA), animation
                    • “III. Improvisation,” Emma Bocciarelli ’23 (SFA), piano; Mitchell Lisowski ’21 (SFA), animation
                    • “IV. Movement perpétual,” Oswald Tang ’24 (SFA), piano; Cassidy Keller ’21 (SFA), animation
                    • “V. Hommage à Bach,” Sofia DiNatale ’23 (SFA), piano; Gillian Partyka ’21 (SFA), animation
                    • “VI. Etude,” Niccolo Meniconi ’21 (SFA), piano; Davis Peng ’22 (SFA), animation
                    • Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Prelude No. 10 in E minor BWV 85” from The Well Tempered Clavier, Ilinka Manova ’22 (SFA), piano; Antonio Ariola ’21 (SFA), animation

                    The animated music program “Along the Waves,” featuring music by Dutilleux and Bach, can be seen online via Zoom on Wednesday, April 21 at 6 p.m. A discussion with the pianists and animators follows the program, which is free and open to the public. Advanced registration required.

                    Article From UConn Today

                    Unraveled: 2021 UConn DMD BFA Senior Exhibition

                    Graduating BFA seniors from the University of Connecticut Department of Digital Media & Design are excited to showcase their senior project work in the virtual exhibition Unraveled. The online exhibition launches Wednesday, April 28, 2021 at http://dmd.uconn.edu/bfashow. In addition, an online screening featuring film and animation premieres will take place via YouTube on Friday May 7, 2021 at 7pm EDT at http://youtube.com/uconndmd. Unraveled is presented by UConn Digital Media & Design (DMD) and the Virtual Jorgensen Gallery at the Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts. All events are free and open to the public.

                    Unraveled features the work of 22 senior UConn DMD Bachelor of Fine Arts students from both Storrs and Stamford campuses. Exhibited artworks range from 2D and 3D animations to narrative and documentary films, digital publications, interactive websites, and games. The title Unraveled reflects the feelings and reimagined workflows of the exhibiting artists’ senior year. Everything they may have planned – or thought would be – became “unraveled.” For many of them, this tumultuous year not only influenced the trajectory of their projects, but also the subject of their work. 

                     

                    The exhibition includes work by the following students:

                    Simone Alston (Greenwich, Conn.), Glittergirl Online, 2D animation

                    Andrea Blanco (Stamford, Conn.), Amor, Sabor, Esfuerzo, short documentary film

                    Destin Brown (New Haven, Conn.), An Artist’s Struggle, 3D animation

                    Meaghan Doherty (Enfield, Conn.), Viscid Xenogenics, 2D video game

                    Isaiah Edwards (New Haven, Conn.), BLACK SATURATION, short film

                    Nicole Ellis (Vernon, Conn.), I Try to MAGIC a Plant!!!, 2D animation

                    Mackenzie Fox (Stony Point, N.Y.), Through a Glass, 2D video game

                    Sophia Galante (New Haven, Conn.), Sleight of Hand, 2D animation

                    Alisia Gruendel (Branford, Conn.), Balter, 2D animatic

                    Katelyn Jepsen (Norwell, Mass.), Flecks, 3D modeling/2D animation

                    Cassidy Keller (Sandy Hook, Conn.), Where I Call Home, 2D animation and video

                    Jake Limone (Norwalk, Conn.), Abductee, narrative short film

                    Lynette Muse (Oklahoma City, Okla.), Oh,Chickens!, 3D animation

                    Akari Ohashi (Lexington, Mass.), out/o, 2D animation

                    Gillian Partyka (Summerville, S.C.), The Eastern Tower, 2D animation

                    Jakub Pirog (Stratford, Conn.), JR SPECS: The Come Up, short documentary film

                    Carlos Rivera (New London, Conn.), Mount Tolkien: “Out of Time,” 2D animation 

                    Michael Russell (Madison, Conn.), My 2020 Process Book, multimedia book

                    Dana Santillana (Waterford, Conn.), Spiraling, 3D animation

                    Josh Stanavage (Colchester, Conn.), Take a Walk, mobile website

                    Marcella Vertefeuille (Ashford, Conn.), Personality, 2D animation

                    Anthony Zor (Bethel, Conn.), Lost Souls, narrative short film

                     

                    The University of Connecticut’s Department of Digital Media & Design creates future leaders in entertainment, design, business, and communications. Students can study animation, film/video production, game design, web/interactive media design, digital media business strategies, and digital humanities. Our commitment to experiential learning prepares our students to respond to real-world challenges, and we encourage students to find and express their voice, building from their unique background and perspective. We acknowledge that a diversity of thought and expression is needed in today’s society and see great promise in our DMD students’ abilities to make a difference in the world as future digital media content creators, distributors, and analyzers.

                     

                    The University of Connecticut’s School of Fine Arts balances artistic and cultural legacies with the innovative approaches and techniques of contemporary art. In doing so, the School of Fine Arts serves students at UConn in both their educational and their professional development. The outstanding faculty from the four academic departments (Art & Art History, Digital Media & Design, Dramatic Arts, and Music) are committed to providing rigorous professional education and all offer undergraduate and graduate degrees. The academic programs are supported by specialized and uniquely focused showcases, stages, exhibition spaces and forums which include the Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts, The Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry, The William Benton Museum of Art, Contemporary Art Galleries, Connecticut Repertory Theatre, and von der Mehden Recital Hall.

                     

                    ###

                     

                    If you would like more information about the 2021 BFA Exhibition, email Stacy Webb at digitalmedia@uconn.edu.

                     

                    Download a .pdf of this press release.

                    “Turning Point” 2021 DMD MFA Thesis Exhibition

                    The 2021 Digital Media & Design Master of Fine Arts Thesis Exhibition showcases innovative work in digital media. 

                    MFA Exhibition Banner

                    The University of Connecticut’s Department of Digital Media & Design is delighted to announce the 2021 MFA Thesis Exhibition Turning Point, viewable online and in-person starting March 31, 2021. The in-person exhibition runs through April 9 at the William Benton Museum of Art at 245 Glenbrook Road, Storrs, CT. Museum hours are Wednesday through Friday from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM and 1:00 to 4:00 PM on Saturdays. The online exhibition opens to the public March 31 at https://dmd.uconn.edu/2021mfashow/. A live virtual event featuring screenings and discussion with the exhibiting artists will be held Friday April 9th at 5pm EDT. All events are free and open to the public. 

                    Turning Point invites viewers to experience a varied range of digital media by graduating Digital Media & Design Master of Fine Arts students. The exhibition features 2D and 3D animations, UI/UX interactions and designs, digital games and virtual reality. Turning Point represents two years of research, creativity, development, experimentation and production.

                    Exhibiting artists: Emma Atkinson (Baldwinsville, NY, USA), when we were, Virtual Reality Video Game; Yucheng Hang (Yangzhou, China), CyberTown, Interactive Educational Platform; Hongju “Hannah” Lim (Hwajeong, South Korea), Ensemble, 3D Animation Short Film; Wenchao Lou (Shandong, Qingdao, China), Memory · Home · Food, 2D Cooking Game; Claudia Nunez (Lima, Peru), As You Wish, 2D Animation and Pitch Bible; Renoj Varghese (Orange, CT, USA), Microinteractions in Chatbots, Interaction Design. 

                    The Master of Fine Arts in Digital Media & Design within the School of Fine Arts at University of Connecticut (UConn) is a customized, two-year graduate program where students work closely with dedicated faculty in the development of their own independent creative practice. Situated within a top-25 public research university, UConn’s Digital Media & Design Department operates at the intersection of fine art, technology, science, and the humanities. The program is designed for applicants with a demonstrated background in digital media/design who want the opportunity to intensely pursue advanced education and research in their specific area of expertise or in an interdisciplinary capacity drawing from more than one area within the digital media space. Situated in the School of Fine Arts, DMD faculty and students have the opportunity to engage in collaborative projects with both industry partners and top researchers across the university. 

                    UConn’s School of Fine Arts balances artistic and cultural legacies with the innovative approaches and techniques of contemporary art. In doing so, the School of Fine Arts serves students at UConn in both their educational and their professional development. The outstanding faculty from the four academic departments (Art & Art History, Digital Media & Design, Dramatic Arts, and Music) are committed to providing rigorous professional education and all offer undergraduate and graduate degrees. The academic programs are supported by specialized and uniquely focused showcases, stages, exhibition spaces and forums which include the Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts, The Ballard Institute and Museum of Puppetry, The William Benton Museum of Art, Contemporary Art Galleries, Connecticut Repertory Theatre, and von der Mehden Recital Hall.

                    (Via UConn Today) ‘Amplifying Black Voices in Hollywood’ Debuts DMD Speaker Series

                    A focus on topics ranging from lack of Black representation on writing staffs to the distorted perspectives of TV crime dramas.

                     

                     

                    UConn’s Digital Media & Design Department will host the inaugural event in its Diverse Perspectives in Digital Media & Design: 2021 Speaker Serieswith “Amplifying Black Voices in Hollywood” on Friday, Feb. 19 from 1 to 8 p.m., via Jorgensen Digital Stage.

                    The one-day summit will feature conversations with Black leaders from various sectors of the film industry, and will examine its changing landscape by exploring efforts to increase diversity in all aspects of Hollywood including screenwriting, development and production, producing and directing, and visual effects and post-production.

                    Participants will include:

                    • Romany Malco, actor/director of “Tijuana Jackson: Purpose Over Prison” on “Fighting for Equity in Hollywood.”
                    • Kristen Marston, culture and entertainment advocacy director at Color of Change Hollywood, on “How the TV Crime Genre Normalizes Injustice.”
                    • Alan Mayo, president of Orion Pictures, on “Authentic Storytelling at the Studio Level.”
                    • Numa Perrier, director of “Jezebel,” on “Creating Content for underrepresented Voices in Digital Media.”
                    • Chris White, visual effects supervisor at WETA Digital, on “The Value of Inclusion in Visual Effects.”

                    Last year, Color of Change Hollywood released its second major study on how the paucity of people of color writing scripts and in leadership roles in the film and television industries contributes to miseducation about the criminal justice system and makes racial injustice acceptable. The report, “Normalizing Injustice,” examined 26 different scripted series focused on crime from the 2017-2018 season broadcast on both networks and streaming platforms.

                    Producers of “The Rookie” have implemented suggestions based on recommendations in the “Normalizing Injustice” report from Color of Change Hollywood. (ABC.com Photo)

                    The 2020 report found more than 80% of the producers, known as showrunners, as well as at least 81% of writers were white, while only 9% were Black. In three of the series, all of the writers were white. The data was similar to the organization’s 2017 study of television and film writers, “Race in the Writer’s Room,” which examined all episodes from all 234 original scripted comedy and drama series on 18 broadcast, cable, and digital platforms from the 2016-2017 season. That study found two-thirds of shows had no Black writers and more than 90% of all shows had white showrunners.

                    “We are working in an industry that has not been built for Black people and people of color and so essentially it’s functioning as it was intended to function,” says Marston. “There’s a lot of people who are working in the industry who are continuing to do things the way that they’ve always done things because that’s what’s worked for them. Hopefully we’ll see a bit of change in this coming year, given everything that’s happened in the past year.”

                    Marston says events similar to the UConn summit can contribute to creating change because, even if people are not in the entertainment field, consumers hold “a significant amount of power,” and can use their knowledge about industry issues to hold industry leaders accountable to improve their practices.

                    “Normalizing Injustice” examined for the first time how crime shows can problematically affect viewers because more crime shows — more than 60% of prime time programs — were on the list of the Top 100 most watched shows than shows from any other genre, and had a higher total viewership than any other type of program. Among the concerns identified in the study, crime shows often:

                    • Make heroes of people who violate our rights
                    • Present the powerless as those who actually manipulate the system most
                    • Present momentary flash of remorse about killing or wrongly jailing as all the accountability that’s need
                    • Turn racism into a joke, a prompt for eye-rolling
                    • Frame objections to illegal and immoral behavior as laughable ignorance of the naïve who don’t know “how things really work on the streets.”

                    “We know that Americans’ perceptions of crime are very much at odds with the reality of crime in America,” the report says. “As just one example, while the crime rate has dropped precipitously over the last 20 years, the number of people who say that there is ‘more crime in the U.S. than a year ago’ has steadily risen.”

                    Marston says an example of the report resulting in change can already be seen in programs like “The Rookie,” whose creative team worked with Color of Change Hollywood to adjust its season.

                    “There have been a lot of creators who have really understood what we were trying to do,” she says. “We’re not trying to tell them how to do their work or tell them what stories to write. We’re just there to be a solution oriented partner along the way.”

                    Upcoming programs in the Diverse Perspectives in Digital Media & Design: 2021 Speaker Series will include “Bl(x)ck Rhizomes: A Digital Public History Praxis,” on Feb. 22; “Women in Animation” on Feb. 26, and “Representations of Religion in Film” on March 5 with other programs being scheduled.

                    “Amplifying Black Voices in Hollywood” is presented by UConn’s Department of Digital Media & Design, in partnership with Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts and the H. Fred Simons African American Cultural Center

                    This summit is free and open to the public, but RSVP is required. To register and for more event details, visit the DMD Diverse Perspectives site.

                    Article From UConn Today

                    (Via UConn Today) DMD Professor Tells Stamford Family’s COVID-19 Story on PBS Frontline

                     

                    Cameraman in PPE
                    Oscar Guerra, an assistant professor of film/video production at UConn’s Stamford campus wears personal protective equipment while filming COVID-19 patients in Stamford Hospital. (PHOTO BY JOHN MOORE/GETTY IMAGES)

                     

                    When the story of an elementary school teacher in Stamford, Connecticut, taking care of the newborn brother of one of her students became public in early May, the media put a spotlight on the situation of an immigrant family from Guatemala that was battling COVID-19.

                    Luciana Lira, a bilingual teacher, cared for the newborn baby for more than five weeks while the family’s mother, father and son recovered from their illness and could reunite. They are now together at home.

                    The behind the scenes story of the family’s saga will be told to a national audience on Tuesday, Aug. 11 at 10 p.m. on the PBS series Frontline in the episode titled “Love, Life & the Virus,” which was written, produced and directed by filmmaker Oscar Guerra, an assistant professor of film/video production who teaches in the Digital Media & Design Department at UConn’s Stamford campus.

                    Guerra, a San Francisco/Northern California Emmy Award-winning director got in touch with photojournalist and Pulitzer Prize winner John Moore, to start documenting his coverage of the pandemic. Moore was informed by Catalina Hork from Building One Community about the family’s case and he told Guerra about the story.

                    Guerra focuses his work on producing media that provides a way for underrepresented groups to share and disseminate their own stories to contradict dominant and potentially stereotypical narratives while strengthening their voices and identities.

                    “I consider myself an educator and I do try to shed some light on the problems that are affecting the community, in my case the Latino community,” he says of why he decided to film in Stamford Hospital before learning of the family’s story. “I want to make sure I bring an awareness of the realities of the Latino working class, which tends to be one of the more vulnerable communities.”

                     

                    Cameraman in full PPE filming a COVID-19 patient in the hospital
                    Oscar Guerra, an assistant professor of film/video production at UConn’s Stamford campus filming patient Zully, who was ill with COVID-19 before giving birth to son. PHOTO BY JOHN MOORE/GETTY IMAGES

                    Weeks before the story became public, Guerra dressed in personal protective equipment to film and interview patients and healthcare providers. When the Mexican-born filmmaker learned of the family’s situation, and that the teacher and others involved were of Latinx heritage, he sought and received permission from the family to document their experiences.

                    “I wanted to honor and show the reality of the Latino community,” he says.

                    Part of the community effort to support the family – mother Zully, father Marvin and their son Junior and newborn Neysel – included a GoFundMe campaign managed by Lira and the assistance from community partners like Building One Community and Tiny Miracles.

                    In addition to the Frontline production, Guerra’s film will also air in a Spanish language version on the international Univision network program “Aqui y Ahora” on Aug. 16 at 7 p.m.

                    “I feel fortunate I’m able to bring this story to a larger audience, particularly the Latino community as this is our story,” Guerra says.

                     

                     

                    Heather Elliott-Famularo, Donna Krenicki Professor of Design and Digital Media and head of the department, initiated the film production program last year and has worked with UConn’s Human Rights Institute on several projects.

                    “All of the film faculty that we’ve hired are passionate about diversity and social justice issues. We’re creating something new here,” she says. “Students are also working in other genres and can make dramas, comedies, or whatever they want, but we have intentionally hired faculty who are passionate about human rights and want to tell meaningful stories to teach our students. What we are creating in DMD is novel and exciting. I’m proud of Oscar and his commitment to the Connecticut Latinx community. And how many brand new film programs can boast that they already have a documentary being broadcast nationally?”

                    Guerra won a San Francisco/Northern California Emmy Award in 2018 for directing a piece on San Francisco Giants’ star and broadcaster Tito Fuentes and his work also is recognized with honors from the Jelly Film Festival, BEA Festival of Media Arts, International Ocean Film Festival, San Francisco Latino Film Festival and the San Francisco Urban Film Festival. He joined the Digital Media & Design faculty in fall 2019.

                    The second part of the Frontline program will include “Undocumented in the Pandemic,” by director Emily Kassie, which tells the story of another immigrant family’s struggle, with their dad detained by ICE in a facility where COVID-19 is spreading.

                    Article From UConn Today

                    DMD Solidarity Statement

                    Behind the Badge
                    “Behind the Badge” – Digital Illustration by DMD first year student, Katie Aranda, created for DMD 1102 Design Lab 2 course, spring 2020.

                     

                    Statement of Solidarity from the UConn Digital Media & Design Department

                    In a racist society, it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be anti-racist. – ANGELA Y. DAVIS

                    Dear students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents, and friends,

                    We in the Department of Digital Media & Design feel the pain, sadness, and frustration caused by the senseless murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice, Philando Castile, Sandra Bland, and the innumerable Black citizens whose lives who were cut short by racial injustice in our nation. Say their names.

                    In honor of those lost and in protection of our collective, societal future, I challenge each of us to commit to being ANTI-RACIST. We can no longer turn away and remain silent – it is not enough to be non-racist, we must stand together, act for social justice, and become actively conscious about race and racism in our daily lives. This is the only way that we can transform the world around us to become a more just and peaceful society.

                    In our departmental mission, we state that, “…we encourage students to find and express their voice, building from their unique background and perspective. We acknowledge that a diversity of thought and expression is needed in today’s society and see great promise in our DMD students’ ability to make a difference in the world as future digital media content creators, distributors, and analyzers.”

                    These words are more significant now than ever. Ironically, it is only because Americans carry smartphones – with high definition cameras connected to the internet – that these horrific acts of violence are being brought to light, the same tools that we embrace in Digital Media & Design for content creation and distribution. As a creative community with talents in digital media, each one of us has the potential to make a positive impact, realize complex ideas, empower those whose voices are silenced by mainstream media, and amplify those voices in the digital sphere. This moment is a call to action for each of us to rise up and use our talents to spark meaningful conversations, engage in digital advocacy projects, and share our unique voices and diverse backgrounds.

                    DMD has become known for its collaborations around social justice through partnerships with the Dodd Center, the Human Rights Institute, Global Affairs, UConn Archives, and our many external nonprofit partners around the state, who we have helped realize professional digital products to support their missions. We have begun working closely with our Office for Diversity and Inclusion and our Cultural Centers, and we formed a departmental Inclusion Committee in 2019. However, confronting and fighting systemic racism requires intentionality, commitment, and coordinated efforts by the entire community.

                    We join our colleagues at the University of Connecticut in committing to anti-racism, share this statement on racial injustice, and invite you to read those of the Dodd Center and Human Rights Institute, the Africana Studies Institute, interdisciplinary centers, institutes, and programs, and the President and Provost. Together, we affirm our commitment to making the struggle against White supremacy and systemic racism central to our work in building an equitable and just campus community and society

                    To our black students, faculty, and friends, please know that your DMD family stands with you in solidarity. We hear you, we share your outrage, and we empathize with your pain. And I ask everyone in our community, right now, to reach out to and support our friends of color, who are truly suffering during this time of national crisis, both from racial injustice and the pandemic, which has disproportionately impacted minority groups.
                    There are many resources available to support this work, but a particularly meaningful one is the National Museum of African American History and Culture‘s “Talking About Race” site. I also invite you to join the Racial Profiling Prohibition Project and stakeholders from across the state for Truth & Reconciliation: A Conversation about Race and Policing at 11am tomorrow, Friday, June 5.

                    Finally, over the next month, we will be sharing via social media examples of recently created student projects that engage social justice issues, address racism and embrace cultural identity. Please follow us on Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter to view the works and help amplify our UConn DMD students’ voices as we celebrate their creativity and passion as they learn that they have the power to bring change to the world.

                    In solidarity, but with hope,

                    Heather Elliott-Famularo
                    Department Head & Professor, Digital Media & Design

                    Faculty member Sue Huang featured in Creative Capital’s On Our Radar 2020

                    Sue Huang's research

                    The project Freshkills in Eight Movements, by faculty member Sue Huang and collaborator Brian House, is featured in Creative Capital’s On Our Radar 2020. On Our Radar 2020 features noteworthy projects in all disciplines that advanced to the final round in the competitive selection process for the Creative Capital Award. During each award cycle, Creative Capital has the great privilege of learning about a wealth of exciting artists’ projects. By promoting projects “on our radar” to people who are passionate about the arts, we can help forge connections that lead to new avenues of support and collaborative opportunities. We invite you to explore projects featured in On Our Radar, and follow links to artists’ websites to find out more about how you can get involved making their visions a reality.   

                    Freshkills in Eight Movements is a sound/video installation that explores the relationship between human and environmental temporalities in a time of climate crisis. The project takes as its starting point New York City’s Freshkills, once known as Fresh Kills Landfill, the largest municipal dump in the world. Currently in the process of a decades-long transformation into a public park, Freshkills is a uniquely liminal space, where our long-term effects on the Earth are palpable. 

                    House and Huang’s installation emerges from the multitemporal dynamics of this environment—the thousand-year decay of a Styrofoam cup, the multigenerational use of the land by humans, the seasonal cycle of the regenerating vegetation, and the gathering of clouds. Each of these temporal layers is translated into musical notation using municipal and public data, including statistical projections of weather patterns and methane and leachate emissions data from the Department of Sanitation. The resulting eight scores are played by double bassist Robert Black (Bang on a Can All-Stars), whose performances are filmed and later projected onto a labyrinth of screens in an installation space. When heard simultaneously, these performances create a soundscape of data that coalesces multiple temporalities into one immersive experience. 

                    Congratulations to Professor Huang!